Top 10 Best DSLR Cameras Under $500

Today, $500 represents a budget enough to buy a high-performance camera, unimaginable five or ten years ago. If you had asked me a few years ago to give you a good selection of the best DSLR cameras under $500, I would have had a hard time making a half worthy list. But today, thanks to the speed with which digital photography has improved and prices have dropped, the process has become much easier. However, with all the options available, it can be incredibly difficult to find the one that suits your purpose and your requirements.

In this article, we describe our favorites and build a detailed list of the Best DSLR Cameras Under $500 to help you choose the one that’s right for you. If you are looking for a digital SLR, here is our choice of the top 10 DSLR cameras under $500.

Best DSLR Cameras Under $500 Comparison Table

DSLR Cameras Under $500
Camera Name Megapixels Max Video Resolution
Canon EOS Rebel T5 18.0MP 1080p
Nikon D3200 24.2MP 1080p
Canon EOS Rebel T6 18.0MP 1080p
Nikon D5300 24.2MP 1080p
Sony Alpha DSLR-A350 14.2MP 1080p
Pentax K-30 16.0MP 1080p
Nikon D3400 24.2MP 1080p
Canon EOS Rebel SL1 18.0MP 1080p
Pentax K-S2 20.0MP 1080p
Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D 6.1MP

Here are the Top 10 Best DSLR Cameras Under $500

Canon EOS Rebel T5

  • Model: EOS Rebel T5 (also known as EOS Kiss X70, EOS 1200D)
  • Lens Mount: EF-S
  • Weight: 19.96 oz.
  • Megapixels/sensor: 18MP/CMOS (APS-C)
  • Viewfinder: Optical (pentamirror)

You can not go wrong with a Canon DSLR at the entrance, and the Rebel T5 is no exception. It even has a fully manual exposure control, which is not typical of EOS cameras for beginners. We saw the Rebel T3 digital SLR a long time ago in 2011, then the long-awaited Canon T5. I think it was worth the wait for the new improved 18 MPa sensor like never before. But there is more. The Rebel T5 also offers us a greatly improved ISO range (up to 12,800) and larger images with higher resolution. There is also a remarkable improvement with HD video and recording options.

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I like this camera for all kinds of reasons. It feels good in the hands, thanks to ergonomics and rubber grip. It’s a simple design with advanced features and intuitive operation. You can also choose the Canon EOS Rebel T5i if you have more than 170 additional dollars. The T5 costs just under $500. The main differences are the T5i’s articulated touch screen and the extra burst recordings. Both cameras are almost aligned and are one of the best DSLR cameras under $500.

Pros:

  • High-resolution sensor
  • Light & compact
  • Flash sync port
  • Face detection

Cons:

  • No WiFi
  • No image stabilization

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Nikon D3200

  • Model: D3200
  • Lens Mount: Nikon F
  • Weight: 17.76 oz.
  • Megapixels/sensor: 24.2MP/CMOS DX-format
  • Viewfinder: Optical (pentamirror)

I know that the look and feel of a camera can be subjective to some degree. Nevertheless, I must say that the Nikon D3200 digital SLR is one of those light-tight cases that I can not put. This device takes a lot of value but comes with just under 500 dollars. The massive 24.2MP sensor is in APS-C DX format with the highest resolution of Nikon and resides in this entry-level SLR camera. Budding videographers love the enhanced features of the old Nikon D3100. There is a lot more control over exposure settings and audio. The LCD screen is also an improvement over its predecessor.

I had the impression that Nikon had this camera specifically designed for the novice. The controls are well placed, simple and intuitive. They have even extended the guide mode, which is a pleasure to discover. Anyone who does not want to spend a small fortune in a digital SLR camera may want to keep it. It is fully compatible with a wide range of Nikon AF-S/AF-I lenses, from ultra wide angles to telephoto lenses. Overall, this is one of the best DSLR cameras under 500 dollars.

Pros:

  • Clear images
  • Lightweight
  • Flash sync port
  • Good battery life

Cons:

  • No WiFi
  • No articulating or touchscreen

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Canon EOS Rebel T6

  • Model: EOS Rebel T6 (also known as the EOS 1300D)
  • Lens Mount: EF/EF-S
  • Weight: 17 oz.
  • Megapixels/sensor: 18.0MP/APS-C CMOS
  • Viewfinder: Optical (pentamirror)

Introducing Canon’s entry-level EOS Rebel T6 DSLR. If you know its predecessor, the T5, you will certainly notice a lighter and clearer LCD screen. Small improvements like this make a big difference. The Rebel T6 is perfect for those who are serious about image quality but who are not necessarily passionate about photography. It is more versatile and produces better images than compact cameras and smartphones. I doubt that you find a more affordable SLR with these features and specifications, no matter what the novelty.

It also offers WiFi and NFC connectivity options that make it easy to shoot and share. There are no complaints about the picture quality of an entry camera in this class. If you also want more color saturation by default, you can always configure it to match your preferences. The T6 competes well on all fronts compared to its closest rivals. This includes the design, operation, functions, usability and image quality. Overall, this is one of the best DSLR cameras under 500 dollars.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • WiFi w/ NFC
  • Flash sync port
  • Face detection focusing

Cons:

  • No video AF
  • No touchscreen
  • Slow low-light focus

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Nikon D5300

  • Model: D5300
  • Lens Mount: Nikon F
  • Weight: 16.93 oz.
  • Megapixels/sensor: 24.2MP/DX-format CMOS
  • Viewfinder: Optical (pentamirror)

My fourth choice is a high-quality Nikon digital SLR for enthusiastic beginner photographers. It’s easy to compare the Nikon D5300 for the D5200 at a glance – the appearance can be misleading. The new high-resolution 24.2-megapixel sensor is not a detail. Other improvements include better JPEG images and video recordings. Thanks to the EXPEED 4 image processor, the battery life is extended. It was also nice to see the built-in WiFi as it is not found in all entry-level DSLR cameras. Photographers who perform long sessions enjoy the quality of workmanship and ergonomics of the D5300.

I found it comfortable and natural in the hands, and not at all sticky. There is a good firm feeling to this camera. This is probably due to the high-quality plastic they have reinforced with carbon fiber. Image quality is another benefit for this entry-level DSLR. It has good resolution (detail) and impressive ISO performance. There is even a shooting option in RAW format. My biggest disappointment with the Nikon D5300 is the 3.2-inch high-resolution LCD. The reflections and reflections of the shiny surface are too numerous in brighter light conditions. Overall, this is one of the best DSLR cameras under $500.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Image quality
  • Articulating screen
  • Long battery life

Cons:

  • Slow Live View
  • Poor instructions for advanced features
  • Limited special effects

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Sony Alpha DSLR-A350

  • Model: Alpha DSLR-A350
  • Lens Mount: Sony/Minolta Alpha
  • Weight: 23.77 oz.
  • Megapixels/sensor: 14MP / APS-C CCD
  • Viewfinder: Optical (pentamirror)

The Sony Alpha DSLR-A350 does not share the same popularity as its competitors Canon and Nikon. Nevertheless, I found the image quality easily comparable with Canon EOS 40D and XSi DSLRs in particular. There are a lot of “like new” bargains around under $300. Many features of this DSLR have caught my eye, but I will not go into the most detailed details. It is also a good solid product. One of the first things that struck me was how Live View did not affect the speed of autofocus. It’s not something that all cameras can boast about. The Super SteadyShot of the camera does a great job stabilizing the images.

A brand new model is appealing to consumers, but high-quality cameras are also popular with newcomers. The DSLR-A350 is easy to learn, use and has a good grip. I also noticed how the sensor followed the details, without significant noise loss at the lower ISOs. The camera’s Jpeg performance is excellent and the printed images are also good. Some other things to note are USB fast transfer, fast focus, and flash. Overall, this is one of the best DSLR cameras under $500.

Pros:

  • Articulating LCD screen
  • Flash sync port
  • Dynamic range optimizer
  • Image stabilization

Cons:

  • Small LCD
  • No WiFi
  • No touchscreen

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Pentax K-30

  • Model: K-30
  • Lens Mount: Pentax KAF2
  • Weight: 22.93 oz.
  • Megapixels/sensor: 16.1MP / APS-C CMOS
  • Viewfinder: Optical (pentaprism)

The Pentax K-30 is my favorite camera from an aesthetic point of view. We are so used to models completely black or black and silver that these new colors are a relief. The eyes of a camera are not relevant for some people. Others appreciate the beauty of design and precision engineering. And let’s not forget that many photographers wear digital SLRs around their necks all day long. In total, the K-30 is probably the best Pentax digital SLR performance. It’s not just a beautiful product. This camera also has many impressive features.

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It was as if I was making an old friend the moment I held the camera. The compact and lightweight design was in the hands as if it had been custom made. Its price, powerful features and aesthetic appeal make the K-30 a real winner in my book. The Sony 16MP sensor is one of the main attractions. Others include UI enhancements and enhanced video. A K-30 digital SLR is for anyone who wants a quality camera that looks great and is easy to use. It’s an ideal choice and one of the best DSLR cameras under $500 for those who prefer a small, lightweight camera with good image quality.

Pros:

  • Color options
  • Weather sealed
  • Excellent image quality
  • Fast shutter
  • AF adjustment

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Battery life,
  • No WiFi
  • No articulating or touchscreen

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Nikon D3400

  • Model: D3400
  • Lens Mount: Nikon F
  • Weight: 13.93 oz.
  • Megapixels/sensor: 24.2MP / APS-C CMOS
  • Viewfinder: Optical (pentamirror)

The Nikon D3400 is another high-end entry-level SLR for under $500. It was the expected upgrade of the old D3300, but there was no big surprise on the front of the functions. What this camera shines is the improved usability and image quality. Both things are much more important than all the bells and whistles that do not do more than sound good. The value for money is undeniable given its solid performance and user-friendly appeal. It looks like a professional camera, but it will not intimidate new users as soon as they take it and turn it on.

The body is small and has a perfectly compact design that you can not appreciate with the promotional images. The image quality is excellent and the autofocus in one shot is reliable. It’s a good digital SLR for beginners. One of the biggest disappointments was the lack of wireless connectivity. I was not impressed by Nikon’s SnapBridge connectivity, which slowed down the camera. He is also limited in his function. Overall, the Nikon D3400 is an excellent choice for beginner photographers and is one of the best DSLR cameras under 500 dollars.

Pros:

  • Small and portable
  • Easy to use
  • Good low-light ISO
  • Long battery life

Cons:

  • No WiFi
  • No touchscreen
  • No AF micro adjustment
  • No image stabilization

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Canon EOS Rebel SL1

  • Model: EOS Rebel SL1
  • Lens Mount: Canon EF/EF-S
  • Weight: 14.4 oz.
  • Megapixels/sensor: 18MP / APS-C CMOS
  • Viewfinder: Optical (pentamirror)

We are back at Canon, this time the EOS Rebel SL1. This is another lightweight and compact DSLR focused on the entry level. The image quality is excellent and comparable to that of the Canon T4i/T5i. A few things caught my attention with this little capable camera. I found autofocus always fast and accurate. I mention this because not all autofocus systems are as good or reliable. The live view is also decent. Too many cameras suffer from the delay of Live View, but in comparison, the result is rather satisfactory. And the simple touch screen seems to get familiar with its range of digital controls.

The Canon EOS Rebel SL1 feels like an old friend when you know the touch screens of the camera. It may be a small digital SLR, but it’s still easy to use, even with larger hands. You can consider this camera if you want to capture images and record videos in Live View mode. Those who need extra bubbles, whistles, wireless connectivity, and an articulated display are likely to miss it. But overall, the EOS Rebel SL1 is one of the best DSLR cameras under $500.

Pros:

  • Great image quality
  • Lightweight
  • Touchscreen
  • External mic port
  • Flash sync port

Cons:

  • Short battery life
  • No articulating screen
  • No AF micro adjustment
  • No WiFi

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Pentax K-S2

  • Model: K-S2 Weatherized
  • Lens Mount: Pentax KAF2
  • Weight: 23.92 oz.
  • Megapixels/sensor: 20MP / APS-C CMOS
  • Viewfinder: Optical (pentaprism)

This is undoubtedly the smallest digital SLR weatherproof and dust available today. The Pentax K-S2 is a compact camera with a deep and comfortable grip. It floats around the $500 sign, so it came on this page. It is also aimed at a wider audience. You can also control this camera from a multitude of finishes. For example, you have color options, subtle LED rings and different decorative accents to boot. The K-S2 digital SLR offers a wider range of advanced features compared to some other choices.

There are dual-control wheels, integral seals and a 100% coverage viewfinder. Compared to its predecessor, the K-50, the K-S2 is faster and has a lot of features that were missing from the previous model. These upgrades are all things that made taking photos easier and more fun. Being one of the best DSLR cameras under $500, the Pentax K-S2 is still not selling as well as its most famous competitors. I still think he can compete with Canon and Nikon when more people give him a chance.

Pros:

  • WiFi w/ NFC
  • Image stabilization
  • Articulating screen
  • Weather sealed body

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Small Grip
  • Short battery life
  • No touchscreen

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Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D

  • Model: Maxxum 7D
  • Lens Mount: Sony/Minolta Alpha
  • Weight: 29.8 oz.
  • Megapixels/sensor: 6MP / APS-C CCD
  • Viewfinder: Optical (pentaprism)

You will not find any new Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D under $500, but there are many new models for less than half the price. The Maxxum 7D is a camera where “used” is a wise investment. The first thing that struck me when I took one of these cameras was the construction. It is certainly a robust camera. The disadvantage of this is its weight, and it is not lightweight at around 30 oz. I’m not a big fan of big cameras on long shootings, but here I’m going to make an exception. The Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D produces images with amazing sharpness, colors and fine details.

The battery life is also impressive and we all want to see it on our checklist. For storage options, the camera uses affordable CF cards (CompactFlash). This digital SLR comes with built-in image stabilization, which seems to work well. All forms of image stabilization are always welcome, especially for poorly lit photographs. However, there is no video recording with this camera. It is a tool for the photographer without any benefit for videography. It’s also quite complicated for the unedited beginner to understand. Overall, this is one of the best DSLR cameras under $500

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Creative controls
  • CCD-Shift anti-shake system
  • Built-in flash

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Low battery life
  • No articulating or touchscreen
  • Can’t capture videos

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Final Words

These are the Best DSLR Cameras Under $500, and there are no two identical models here. The camera that suits you depends on your needs and photographic expectations. Every digital SLR on this page brings something different to the table. No product contains everything, but some cameras have everything you need. The purpose of this article is to help you make better buying decisions. In some areas, you may need to compromise.

There are many things to consider when looking for one of the best DSLR cameras under $500. So be sure to make a checklist with preferences. Remember to check the video quality and options if this is important to you. Only you can know what you want or what you expect from these incredibly powerful digital SLRs.

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Originally posted 2019-02-04 19:50:06.

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